The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel
View from the Hill

Presidential candidates get social (media) with young voters

Social media is fun. cool. #hip.

Social media is also very political. Especially as the 2016 presidential campaign continues to grow with each primary, caucus, or cringe-worthy defeat (looking at you, Jeb!).

Nonetheless, politicians and policy organizations have learned that social media is the place to be and have completely reimagined their campaigns to accommodate youth voters’ growing political power.

Jen Jones, a spokesperson for Democracy NC — a non-partisan organization that works to promote free and fair elections while advocating and researching voting rights — said social media helps her organization distribute information to the public.

“It’s a lot about translating what are sometimes complex voter laws into a language of talking points that people can actually understand,” she said.

Jones said memes are very influential in conveying messages to youth voters while being entertaining.

“They’re easy, weekly connections between what’s happening in pop culture, what’s happening in the news and connecting them to voting rights and justice,” she said. “In the sense that voting is apart of all of that.”

Social media has been a prominent tool in political campaigns since 2008, Jones said.

“You would be blind not to see that beyond 2008 and with the success of the Obama campaign in engaging youth voters through social media that has only snowballed with time,” she said.

Jones said the most successful social media content is short and sweet.

“Even though you have a 140 characters on Twitter, people want fewer words, they want bigger images, they want animated GIFS, they want short videos,” Jones said. “They want content they can view on the go and share with their friends to feed their social selves.”

Feeding one’s social self is the idea that people want to find and share content they align themselves with, Jones said.

Here are the traits of successful social media content:

  • concise
  • big images
  • GIFS
  • short videos
  • relatable

Let’s see how 2016 presidential candidates incorporate these traits:


Donald Trump: Short and sweet

Bernie Sanders: 

John Kasich: 

Marco Rubio: Cute artwork

Ben Carson: 

John Kasich: Big Images and a contest *wow*

Bernie Sanders: 

Ben Carson: 

Donald Trump: Dropping his Snapchat username

Short Videos:

Ted Cruz: 

Ben Carson: 

Ted Cruz:

Bernie Sanders: 

Marco Rubio:

Hillary Clinton: Will Ferrell endorsement

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for November 20, 2023